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Genesis 4:1-15 - Homiletics

The first brothers.


1. The first home. Of Divine appointment, and among the choicest blessings that have survived the fall, homes are designed for—

2. A pious home . Its locality , though outside the garden, was still in Eden, which was a mercy, and probably not far from the cherubim, Adam's gate of heaven, which was hopeful. When man founds a home it should never be far removed from God, heaven, or the Church. Its structure , mayhap, was humble,—another garden likely, but this time man-made, and not so fair as that which God had planted,—but its precincts were hallowed by the rites of religion. It is one mark of a pious home when God has an altar in it ( Psalms 118:15 ). Its inmates were fallen creatures, but still pardoned sinners, who, having believed the Divine promise, had become partakers of the Divine mercy. There is no true piety where there is no humble faith in the gospel.

3. A happy home. At least it had all the elements that were needful to surround them with earthly felicity: the only true foundation on Which a happy home can rest—religion ( Psalms 112:1 ; Proverbs 15:25 ; Proverbs 24:3 ); the best blessing a home can receive—the Divine favor ( Proverbs 3:33 ); the best ornaments a home can possess—children ( Psalms 128:3 ).

II. THE BROTHERS AT WORK . These works were—

1. Necessary . God's commands, man's powers and needs, the earth's condition, render toil indispensable. No one is born to sloth. Every one should have a calling. Those whom God's bounty relieves from the necessity of toiling for daily bread should still labor in some specific occupation for God's glory and man's good.

2. Various . The first instance of division of labor. Diversity of employments, rendered necessary by individual capacities and tastes, promotes excellence of workmanship, facility of production, and rapidity of distribution; contributes to the unity and stability of the social fabric by teaching the interdependence of its several parts; multiplies the comforts, stimulates the energies, and generally advances the civilization of mankind.

3. Useful . Most trades and professions are useful; but some more so than others. Parents should, select for their children, and young persons for themselves, occupations that contribute to the good of man rather than those which enhance their own profit. A calling that flourishes on the world's luxuries is less remunerative, besides being less honorable, than one which supplies men's necessities.

4. Healthful . These brothers both worked in the open air. Out-of-door employment more conducive to physical vigor and mental activity than toiling in mines, factories, warehouses, and shops. Men should study health in their secular pursuits.

III. THE BROTHERS AT WORSHIP . Born in the same homes educated by the same parents, trained to the same duty of devotion, the first brothers became worshippers of the same God, at the same time, and in the same place, at the same altar, and in the same way, viz. by the presentation of oblations, yet their service was essentially diverse.

1. Their offerings . These were not the same—

2. Their worship . The state of the heart is the essential thing in worship. If the offering of the hand he the husk, the devotion of the soul is the kernel of true religion. Not only was Abel's offering better than Cain's; it was offered in a better way.

3. Their receptions . These were—

IV. THE BROTHERS AT VARIANCE . Divided in dally toils, religious worship, Divine acceptance, they were now also divided in fraternal regards. This estrangement was—


1. Both went there. The spirit of the first martyr ascended to God, and God came to arraign the red-handed murderer. So must we all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ.

2. Both were judged there. The righteous Abel's character and conduct were approved; for God espoused his cause, and heard the cry of his innocent blood. The guilty Cain was condemned. So will all before the great white throne be judged according to their works; of every one of which God is now a witness, as he was of the fratricidal act of Cain.

3. Both were sentenced there. Abel was received into glory, and his blood avenged; Cain banished from God's presence, transformed into a wandering fugitive, in mercy spared from immediate destruction, but in reality, with his scarred brow, doomed to a lifetime of woe—fit emblem of the doom of the ungodly; as the award of righteous Abel was of the honor of the righteous ( Matthew 25:46 ).

Lessons :

1. Value the Divine gift of home.

2. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

3. Serve the Lord with gladness. Present your bodies a living sacrifice. Come into his courts, and bring an offering with you.

4. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

5. Live in anticipation of, and preparation for, the judgment-day.

6. Learn that nothing will keep a man right in life and safe in death except faith in atoning blood. Cain had pious parents, a good home, an honorable calling, a religious profession, and yet was lost. Abel had a short life and a sad death, but he was safe. Faith in Christ (the woman's seed) made the difference.

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